The U.S. Department of Agriculture is requesting proposals for matching grant funds under the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP).

FSMIP funds may be requested from state departments of agriculture, state agricultural experiment stations and other appropriate state agencies. FSMIP funds may be requested for a wide range of research projects that help to market, transport, and distribute U.S. food and agricultural products domestically and internationally.

Federal funds awarded to any project must be matched by non-federal funds and/or in-kind resources.

USDA is particularly interested in proposals that involve collaboration among the states, academia, producers, and other stakeholders, and proposals that have state, multi-state or national significance.

All proposals which fall within the FSMIP guidelines will be considered. FSMIP encourages states to submit proposals that address the following objectives:

• creating wealth in rural communities through the development of local and regional food systems and value-added agriculture

• developing direct marketing opportunities for producers or producer groups.

Historically, Congress has appropriated funding for this program. This notice is being issued prior to passage of a fiscal year 2011 Appropriations Act, which may or may not provide an appropriation for this program, to allow applicants sufficient time to leverage financing, submit applications, and give USDA time to process applications within the current fiscal year. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service administers the program.

States interested in applying for FSMIP funds may submit proposals to FSMIP Staff Officer, USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service, 1800 M Street, NW., Room 3002-South Tower, Washington, D.C. 20036, or call (202) 694-4002 or (202) 694-4002.

Program guidelines, application forms and other related information are posted on the Internet at www.ams.usda.gov/FSMIP.

Applicants have the option of submitting their applications through the federal grants web site: www.grants.gov.

The deadline for submitting applications is Feb. 17, 2011.